Friday, January 31, 2014

Mona Rossi, heroine in A Bloody Good Cruise

Interview with Mona Rossi, heroine of A Bloody Good Cruise
By Diana Rubino

You, the Heroine . . .
Tell us more about yourself! Readers love to know about their favorite heroines, and this is your chance to make them feel close to you.
If you have 2 hours free time tonight, what would you rather do? Why?

Soak in my hot tub overlooking the Tuscany Hills with a chilled glass of Gianni Brunelli Brunello di Montalcino Riserva from right there in Tuscany. Fausto bought me a
case of this for our one-year anniversary. It’s a  deep ruby red with intense
aromas of notes of leather and cherry. Upon sipping, you get an astringent taste.

At $389 a bottle, I splurge when I sell a book—then I buy another bottle when the book sales hit the 1,000 copy mark.

But when I can’t be so decadent I drink Beaujolais
Nouveau, produced in the Beaujolais region of France. (sorry, Fausto, it’s not
Italian.) It comes out once a year, and goes on sale the third Thursday of
November. If you don’t get to a store in time, you can miss out. It sells out fast.
Distributors deliver it to stores at 12:01 a.m. local time. I’ve seen people in line
waiting for it. I’d do that for a Springsteen concert, but not for a bottle of wine!

Yes, I’m a Springsteen fan, and that’s something else I’d do with two free hours—go to one of his shows or blast his CDs and dance like crazy.
But along with the wine, I’d have Sinatra or Dean Martin playing in the background, with a vanilla candle. And if I’m feeling indulgent, I’ll bring three white chocolate truffles, and eat them fast so they don’t melt.

What kind of books do you love to read? Why?
The same kind of romances I write—suspense, where the heroine gets into one mess after another. I read out loud, it improves my diction for when I speak at writers’ conferences. I also like to browse cookbooks. I take a snapshot of the recipe in my head, then go and improvise.
My favorite author is Linda Howard. She writes such pulse-pounding suspense. And I know this sounds hokey, but when I met Fausto, I began reading Anne Rice. Fausto and his family aren’t the same kinds of vampires she writes about, but it gave me some perspective. To me, the original book Dracula, by Bram Stoker, was scary as hell. But I do consider it one of my favorite books because it was so innovative. I never believed in vampires before that book, and look where I am now!

     I like to go to Goodreads to seek out new titles. I don’t read the reader reviews, though. Too many of them have misled me. I just read the book summary and make up my own mind.
What is your stress buster?

A Pilates class or watching my favorite shows while working out on the elliptical trainer—I watch comedy working out, certainly not the news—I want to bust stress, not increase it. I have DVDs of some classic sitcoms:
I Love Lucy, the Dick Van Dyke Show, All in the Family, Seinfeld—and some live standup: Joan Rivers, Phyllis Diller, Richard Pryor, the pioneers, the greats. No comedians working the clubs today come close to those legends. Moving for an hour to comedy—or music—is the best way to relieve stress and work it all off. When not on the elliptical, I’ll get out my iPod, close the door, pull the shades and torch some calories dancing to my cardio mix—a scientifically engineered mix of songs that burn 450 calories—one of my warm up songs is Scream by Usher, one sprint song is Pump It by Black Eyed Peas, a recover song is Goin’ In by J.Lo, and a cool down song is Halo by BeyoncĂ©.

What is your favorite food? What food do you seek when you==re sad, sort of a comfort food?

Cheesecake made with cottage cheese—it’s healthy and low fat, and tastes every bit as good as ‘real’ cheesecake but much lighter. I also make honey balls, “Struffoli” which is a Christmas treat, but I make them year round. I added the recipe below. Every morning I make a healthy smoothie with almond milk, coconut milk, yogurt, either spinach or kale, cinnamon, and protein powder. If I use chocolate powder, I also add peanut butter. You can’t even taste the spinach or kale, but it does turn the smoothie green. I also do some creative things to oatmeal—top it with cinnamon or nutmeg. I make it with a green tea bag instead of plain water for a healthy boost.
Describe yourself in one word.
What is the most adventurous thing you=ve ever done?
Being turned—but it was a matter of life and death. I trusted Fausto with my life, and here I am.
What makes you happy/sad/disappointed/frustrated/hopeful/angry? (Pick one)

What makes me angry is intolerance. After I went through with Fausto and his family, I saw first-hand what someone different must go through to gain acceptance. I’m trying to change that by giving talks about vampires, explaining who we really are, so someday prejudice against us—and anyone else the ‘majority’ deems ‘different’ will be an ugly thing of the past.
What are your wildest dreams/fantasies/kinks/quirks?

My wildest dream is to live a week in Ancient Rome, as a Senator’s mistress.
         What do you most want out of life, and what’s its opposite?

          I most want social acceptance and its opposite is to disappear in the crowd,      to be an ordinary citizen.

What would you never say, do or think?

I’d never insult someone just to show I’m better or smarter.
I’d never let anyone boss me around.
I’d never think I’m inferior to anyone because of my new status as a vampire.

What are some of your faults?

I’m too assertive at times. I still worry about what people think of me. I overcompensate to get them to accept and like me. I make a mess after cooking and don’t clean it up right away. This drives Fausto nuts. He’s a neat freak. Another fault that also drives him nuts is that I put off going to the doctor. We’ve been granted eternal life, but we do have to get checkups along the way!

Any new projects, work in progress?

Since I joined the vampire world, I began writing The Dark Side, a vampire romance set during the War of 1812 Salem MA, about the (fictional) son of historical figure Deacon Brodie, a larger-than-life Scotsman who faked his own death in the 1700s.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Even though your first, second, third, or even fourth novel may never see print, not a word is wasted if it's considered a learning experience. I also believe that you must write from the heart, and your passion will shine through in your work. There are many roads to success, but patience is the best way.

An Italian Tradition, Struffoli (Honey Balls)

When my grandparents came from Naples and landed at Ellis Island in the early 1900s they brought many recipes with them, but only in their heads. No one brought cookbooks or written recipes on the boat along with their possessions. A favorite Chrismas treat is Struffoli, better known as Honey Balls. One Christmas when I was a kid, I watched my grandmother make them and scribbled down the ingredients as she sifted and mixed and baked and drizzled. Here's an accurate recipe in English!


•2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
•1 large lemon, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•1/2 large orange, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•3 tablespoons sugar
•1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
•1/4 teaspoon baking powder
•1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
•3 large eggs
•1 tablespoon white wine, such as pinot grigio
•1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
•Canola oil, for frying
•1 cup honey
•1/2 cup sugar
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
•1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted (see Cook's Note)
•Vegetable oil cooking spray
•Sugar sprinkles, for decoration
•Powdered sugar, for dusting, optional


For the dough: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together 2 cups of flour, lemon zest, orange zest, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the eggs, wine, and vanilla. Pulse until the mixture forms into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into 4 equal-sized pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough until 1/4-inch thick. Cut each piece of dough into 1/2-inch wide strips. Cut each strip of pastry into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a small ball about the size of a hazelnut. Lightly dredge the dough balls in flour, shaking off any excess. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 375 degrees F. (If you don't have a thermometer a cube of bread will brown in about 3 minutes.). In batches, fry the dough until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. 

Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. (The rested and quartered dough can also be rolled on a floured work surface into 1/2-inch thick logs and cut into equal-sized 1/2-inch pieces. The dough pieces can then be rolled into small balls and fried as above).

In a large saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, and lemon juice over medium heat. 

Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the fried dough and hazelnuts and stir until coated in the honey mixture. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan for 2 minutes.

Spray the outside of a small, straight-sided water glass with vegetable oil cooking spray and place in the center of a round platter. Using a large spoon or damp hands, arrange the struffoli and hazelnuts around the glass to form a wreath shape. Drizzle any remaining honey mixture over the struffoli. Allow to set for 2 hours (can be made 1 day in advance). Decorate with sprinkles and dust with powdered sugar, if using. Remove the glass from the center of the platter and serve.

Note: To toast the hazelnuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until lightly toasted, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before using.

Total Time: 4 hr 12 min
Prep: 1 hr 30 min
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

A Bloody Good Cruise is coming soon to The Wild Rose Press!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

February Romances In The Garden

New Romance and Fiction coming this February to the Garden.

Mr. August
Jan Romes
Release Date 2-5-2014

April Love
Golden Decade of Rock and Roll
Nancy Fraser
Release Date: 2-5-2014

When Swallows Fall
Gloria Davidson Marlow
Release Date 2-7-2014

Wallpaper with Roses
Jenny Andersen
Release Date: 2-7-2014

Ask Nothing in Return
Jane Drager
Release Date 2-7-2014

Tamed by the Fire
Maxine Mansfield
Release Date 2-7-2014

The Witch's Thief
The Merriweather Witches
Tricia Schneider
Release Date 2-12-2014

Only If You Dare
Dearly Beloved
Margo Hoornstra
Release Date 2-12-2014

Voodoo Dreams
The Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers Series
Alana Lorens
Release Date 2-14-2014

Doralynn Kennedy
Release Date: 2-14-2014

Suicide Kings
Christopher J. Ferguson
Release Date: 2-14-2014

Cara O'Shea's Return
Small Town New England
Mackenzie Crowne
Release Date 2-19-2014

Medium Rare: Dead Man Talking
Medium Rare Series
Michelle Witvliet
Release Date 2-19-2014

Helen C. Johannes
Release Date 2-21-2014

A Tarnished Knight
Kathy Otten
Release Date: 2-21-2014

A Risk Worth Taking
Melissa Klein
Retail 2-21-2014

Tattoos and Tangles
Melinda A. Di Lorenzo
Release Date 2-26-2014

Training Travis
Cathleen Tully
Release Date: 2-26-2014

Alpha Mine
The Alpha Council Chronicles
Brenda Sparks
Release Date 2-28-2014

Once There Were Sad Songs
Velda Brotherton

Release Date 2-28-2014

Friday, January 24, 2014

“Sealed with a Kiss” by Kevin V. Symmons

                                              “Sealed with a Kiss”
by Kevin V. Symmons

If that title has a vague ring of familiarity that’s no accident. It not so coincidentally bears the name of a song from the mists of my youth. And when asked to do this blog as the summer wans old memories flooded back and it came to mind.

I have the good fortune to spend my summers on Massachusetts’s luxuriant Cape Cod coast. Each year between five and six million visitors cross one of the two aged bridges that span a man-made body of water known as the Cape Cod Canal. But in addition to being a spectacular spot of natural beauty it is also an area filled with romance.

As a child the my experiences were physically stimulating… things like sun and surf and often massive waves that crashed on the pristine sand. Massive at least to one who was only three feet tall. As I grew into my “formative” years my family and I continued to visit this magical place.

Slowly, I found the magic transformed from something far less visual into something far more visceral. Shells and surf gave way to a magic that stimulated me in ways I found both new and strangely exciting. Like so many young people who grew up in summer locales I began to see the subtle changes in those I’d spent so many sun-drenched summers with.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact day, week, and month when I suddenly came to the realization that one of my best summer pals had grown in ways that animated and terrified me. It began during the summer of our twelfth year. Maybe in some subtle ways the year before—but when Joey— short for Josephine—appeared that year on the first day of our summer long vacation I felt a lump in my throat and my heart quicken. ClichĂ©s yes, but none the less just as true. All I know is that when I saw her that June morning something changed.

I’d had all the stirrings and emotional turmoil inherent in any adolescent experiencing the conflicts and ecstasy that accompanies puberty but it wasn’t till I saw Joey, silhouetted as she stood awaiting me at our front door that the emotion took hold.

That summer was a roller coaster for me… and though we never discussed it I’m sure it was for her, too. Suddenly, simple things became complicated. I noticed an electricity when our hands would touch or our eyes would find each others.    

The smell of the tide and fresh-cut grass were exchanged for the subtle fragrance of perfume when she was close.  Things which a year or two before had seemed commonplace became scripted so as not to touch or get too close to each other.

Summer friendships begin on the 4th of July and end on Labor Day or at least that had been the way of it for the years prior to our emergence as young men and women. Others populated our sun and surf-drenched summer world but from my first encounter with Joey that summer neither of us paid attention to the others. 

On Labor Day weekend the families who populated our little Cape Cod side street traditionally held a farewell cookout. That year while neither of us spoke of it, as if scripted Joey and I drifted away from the others to take a walk on the soft sand, knowing it would be our last for an interminable winter.

Suddenly, I felt her hand in mine and as the moon rose into a clear star filled sky I turned toward her. Her hazel eyes dropped behind thick lashes and I put my arms around her clumsily.

We heard out parents calling but as I turned to head back up the beach she gently pulled me close and kissed me. It was soft and innocent. Someone once suggested that no one ever forgets their first kiss. After a summer of watching her and waiting it was the most tender and sweetest I can ever recall….

Later that year my parents told that Joey’s father had been transferred to Texas. She wrote me a brief note and signed it “Love.” Perhaps it was real, perhaps not…but it was the summer of a lifetime, filled with angst and doubt and finally… sealed with a kiss

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Vintage Wedding

Hi everyone. It feels like I've hit and missed being here for the last little bit. But I have a good excuse. My only daughter got married in December and being a first time Mother of the Bride, I wasn't sure what to expect.

It turned out beautiful though. My daughter, Alannah, has always loved being unique so she took us all back in time with her for a vintage 1920s-1930s type of feel.

 And funny thing, even though you'd expect planning a wedding to be stressful, I found myself more hopeful for the future, more able to look at my own life and plans I have for both my career and family, even finances, from a much less stressful viewpoint. Maybe it's the beginning of a new family or the promise of new love as I see my child look at her new husband with stars and hope in her eyes.


Maybe that's why we come back to romance novels over and over again. To recapture that feeling of new love, renewed hope, renewed everything ...

 So here's to romance and beautiful brides in every decade. (And in every book)

In honor of weddings, here are a few books from my fellow Wild Rose Authors guessed it... Brides. 
Outlaw Bride  Accidentally A Bride Always A Bridesmaid Bannon's Brides Borrowing the Bride  Cousin Of The Bride Elopement for One Chantilly Lace and a Pretty Face

Friday, January 03, 2014

Interview with Sam Mackenzie, hero in The Black Palmetto By Paul Carr

Interview with Sam Mackenzie, hero in The Black Palmetto
By Paul Carr

Today I’m doing a phone interview with Sam Mackenzie, hired gun in the three mystery thrillers, Long Way Down, The Cayman Switch, and just released from The Wild Rose Press, The Black Palmetto.

Paul: In your latest adventure, The Black Palmetto, you seem to have stepped in some potholes in the Florida Keys. You know how to attract trouble, don’t you?
Sam: You’re the one who sent me down there. It should have been simple, but things never seem to turn out that way with you at the controls.

Paul: Simple? That would be a pretty dull trip to the Keys wouldn’t it? And I did send Simone your way.Sam: I suppose pairing me up with a beautiful woman for a partner does redeem you a little. Not only beautiful, though, she’s also tough. You really don’t want to cross her.

Paul: You get along well?
Sam: Sure. I work at it. She’s the best, and nice on the eyes.

Paul: Sounds like there’s some attraction there.
Sam: Oh, yeah.

Paul: The feeling’s mutual?
Sam: Mind your own business.

Paul: I’ll take that as a NO.
Sam: Hey, smart guy, you better stick to the keyboard and keep your opinions to yourself.

Paul: Okay, touchy subject. Let’s talk about something else. Tell me about Jackson Craft. Is he up to his same old dirty tricks?
Sam: Any way you slice it, Jack is a devious guy. But he is a confidence man.

Paul: He’s your friend, too, right?
Sam: I guess the jury’s still out on that one.

Paul: I know he gives you a lot of grief, so why do you put up with him?
Sam: Good question. I’ve asked myself the same thing many times. He’s my neighbor at the marina, and it’s usually pretty interesting when he stops around for a drink. Even if he has something up his sleeve. Definitely not a dull guy, though.

Paul: What about John Templeton Smith III, J.T. as you call him. How do you trust that guy? He’d probably steal you last dime if he got the chance.
Sam: Hmm, J.T.’s a computer wizard, and pretty good with a gun, too.

Paul: So you trust him?
Sam: Let’s just say I keep an eye on my dimes when he’s around, but true genius is hard to come by, so it’s usually worth the risk.

Paul: Usually? That sounds like he might have burned you before.
Sam: I don’t gossip. Move on to the next question.

Paul: Okay, tell me more about this new adventure, and Simone.
Sam: Simone’s ex-CIA and now a contractor. She’s hired to go after this guy who stole something important from a government research facility, and she brings me in as a partner. We track the guy to Iguana Key and the trail goes cold. That’s when the murders start.

Paul: And?
Sam: Sorry, that’s all you get.

Paul: You don’t say much, do you?
Sam: Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut. You know the rest of the story. If you want to blab it, that’s up to you.

Paul: All right, then. But at least tell us about the homeless guy, Harpo Crumm.
Sam: Now there’s a strange dude. The lights are on, but somebody else is home.

Paul: You mean he’s nuts.
Sam: He does seem to be on a different frequency than the rest of us. The thing is, he seems to know stuff that might help find our guy, so who am I to judge?

Paul: Can you tell us anything else.
Sam: Forget it. (clink)

Paul: Sam? Sam? You there? Guess we’ll need to read the book.

The Black Palmetto is available now exclusively on Amazon!
Click here to pick up your copy today

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

January Releases from the Wild Rose Press

Look for these books coming to The Wild Rose Press this month!

Return to Audubon Springs
Brothers of Audubon Springs
RoseAnn DeFranco
Release Date: 1-03-2014

Spittin' Grits
Maggie Brogden
Release Date: 1-03-2014

Forgotten in Darkness
Scimitar Magi
Zoe Forward
Release Date: 1-03-2014

That Dating Thing
Mackenzie Crowne
Release Date 1-8-2014

One Stormy Night
K. R. Bailey
Release Date 1-8-2014

Big Sky Brazen
Montana Girl Series
Dawn Luedecke
Release Date 1-10-2014

One Red Shoe
Diane Burton
Release Date 1-10-2014

Blogs of a Cheater Eater
Erika Kathryn
Release Date: 1-10-2014

Driven to Matrimony
Barbara Barrett
Release Date 1-15-2014

It's You and Me, Baby
Mill Creek series
Rose Gorham
Release Date 1-15-2014

Buried Secrets
A. Y. Stratton
Release Date 1-17-2014

Northern Temptress
American Heroes
Nicole McCaffrey
Release Date 1-17-2014

Unchained Memories
Maria Imbalzano
Release Date 1-17-2014

Out of the Storm
Kevin V. Symmons
Release Date 1-22-2014

The Physician's Irish Lady
Susan Macatee
Release Date 1-22-2014

Cat Got Your Tongue?
Rae Rivers
Release Date 1-24-2014

This Feels Like Home
Debra St. John
Release Date 1-24-2014

A Trashy Affair
Lynn Shurr
Release Date 1-24-2014

The Apprentice
Jana Barkley
Release Date 1-29-2014

Love's Tangle
Isabelle Goddard
Release Date: 1-29-2014

Echoes in the Wind
Debra Jupe
Release Date 1-31-2014

Picture Me Naked
Stoddard Art School Series
Lisa A. Olech
Release Date 1-31-2014

Burdened by Desire
J. L. Sheppard

Release Date 1-31-2014